In parts one and two of this series on the benefits of strength training over 40, we talked about preventing frailty and osteoporosis. But did you know lifting weights also helps protect your heart and your brain?!
“How do I start with lifting weights?”
I get this question over and over again. It’s probably the question women ask me the most.
So I’m taking a brief detour from talking about the myriad benefits of strength training for women (and men) over 40. We’ll come back to those, because there are lots more to cover. But given how often this question comes up, I think it requires some attention.
I’m convinced that intimidation/confusion holds far too many women back from lifting (along with myths like “I’ll get big and bulky” and “I’ll hurt myself”.)
If you’re already strength training, I’ll bet you know someone else in this position and have gotten the same question. If you’re not already lifting, maybe you’ve heard enough to decide it makes sense to start, but aren’t sure how to go about it.
There is no “right way” to start with lifting weights
Contrary to what people may tell you, there is no single “right” way to start strength training.
There is only a right way FOR YOU.
In part one of this series on why strength training is critical in midlife, we talked about muscle loss, or sarcopenia. Muscle loss affects both men and women, not equally, but significantly.
There’s another catastrophic loss that affects females more profoundly than males, especially after menopause.
Yup, we women can add another fun Greek word to the list of things we have to deal with as we age: “osteopenia,” and its uglier relative, “osteoporosis.”
In my 30s, I exercised to look good. In my 50s, to stay fit. In my 70s, to stay ambulatory. In my 80s, to avoid assisted living. Now, in my 90s, I’m just doing it out of pure defiance.Dick Van Dyke
Let’s face it. Many women, especially those of us over 40, find the idea of lifting weights unfamiliar at best, and scary at worst.
In general, our culture has not historically encouraged girls and women to get strong. Thankfully, the public perception of strength training for younger women and girls has been evolving at a pretty rapid clip over the past 10-15 years. But lifting doesn’t even occur to most older women—think Gen X and up.